DOJ Launches Criminal Probe Into Alaska Airlines

A door plug came loose from one of Alaska Airlines’ Boeing 737 Max planes while in flight, prompting the DOJ to investigate the airline.

The Department of Justice has contacted everyone on board the January flight who may have insight into the criminal investigation. The agency has also interviewed flight attendants and pilots who were on board when the blowout occurred.

After Flight 1282’s cabin depressurized because the left door plug came loose midair, hundreds of commercial 737 Max-9s in the United States were ordered to remain grounded. Several people on Flight 1282 have sued Boeing, claiming the firm was negligent in ensuring the plane’s safety.

The investigation aims to ascertain if Boeing complied with the conditions of an earlier settlement that resolved a federal inquiry into the 737 Max’s safety following two deadly disasters in 2018 and 2019. Boeing and the Justice Department chose not to comment on the investigation’s coverage in the Wall Street Journal.

If the government prolongs Boeing’s three-year probation, the corporation must keep the DOJ apprised of its progress in improving compliance.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the panel covering the plane’s fuselage on the Alaska Airlines plane blew off soon after takeoff because four fasteners were missing. The aircraft was back in operation in late January after the FAA quickly grounded 171 Max 9 planes for examination. Three people who boarded the aircraft sued Boeing and Alaska Airlines for $1 billion last month. According to their claims, the firms failed to notice the plane’s hazardous state, and the trip should never have taken off.

The probe cost Boeing $2.5 billion, which the company was ordered to pay in 2021. If Boeing complied with the three-year settlement terms, the government would drop the conspiracy to defraud the US accusation. If the Department of Justice finds that Boeing has broken the terms of the 2021 settlement, the government could face prosecution for the first accusation of defrauding the United States.

Under this revised scenario, the DOJ would find Boeing to have breached the terms of the 2021 settlement. The government may decide to extend Boeing’s three-year probationary agreement with the condition that the company keep the DOJ apprised of any progress it makes toward compliance.